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Of the great lamentation of the Fair Maid of Astolat when
Launcelot should depart, and how she died for his love.

MY lord, Sir Launcelot, now I see ye will depart; now fair
knight and courteous knight, have mercy upon me, and
suffer me not to die for thy love.  What would ye that I
did? said Sir Launcelot.  I would have you to my husband,
said Elaine.  Fair damosel, I thank you, said Sir Launcelot,
but truly, said he, I cast me never to be wedded man.
Then, fair knight, said she, will ye be my paramour?  Jesu
defend me, said Sir Launcelot, for then I rewarded your
father and your brother full evil for their great goodness.
Alas, said she, then must I die for your love.  Ye shall not
so, said Sir Launcelot, for wit ye well, fair maiden, I might
have been married an I had would, but I never applied me
to be married yet; but because, fair damosel, that ye love
me as ye say ye do, I will for your good will and kindness
show you some goodness, and that is this, that wheresomever
ye will beset your heart upon some good knight that
will wed you, I shall give you together a thousand pound
yearly to you and to your heirs; thus much will I give you,
fair madam, for your kindness, and always while I live to
be your own knight.  Of all this, said the maiden, I will
none, for but if ye will wed me, or else be my paramour at
the least, wit you well, Sir Launcelot, my good days are
done.  Fair damosel, said Sir Launcelot, of these two things
ye must pardon me.

Then she shrieked shrilly, and fell down in a swoon;
and then women bare her into her chamber, and there she
made over much sorrow; and then Sir Launcelot would
depart, and there he asked Sir Lavaine what he would do.
What should I do, said Sir Lavaine, but follow you, but
if ye drive me from you, or command me to go from you.
Then came Sir Bernard to Sir Launcelot and said to him:
I cannot see but that my daughter Elaine will die for your
sake.  I may not do withal, said Sir Launcelot, for that
me sore repenteth, for I report me to yourself, that my
proffer is fair; and me repenteth, said Sir Launcelot, that
she loveth me as she doth; I was never the causer of it,
for I report me to your son I early ne late proffered her
bount nor fair behests; and as for me, said Sir Launcelot,
I dare do all that a knight should do that she is a clean
maiden for me, both for deed and for will.  And I am
right heavy of her distress, for she is a full fair maiden,
good and gentle, and well taught.  Father, said Sir
Lavaine, I dare make good she is a clean maiden as for my
lord Sir Launcelot; but she doth as I do, for sithen I first
saw my lord Sir Launcelot, I could never depart from him,
nor nought I will an I may follow him.

Then Sir Launcelot took his leave, and so they departed,
and came unto Winchester.  And when Arthur
wist that Sir Launcelot was come whole and sound the
king made great joy of him, and so did Sir Gawaine and
all the knights of the Round Table except Sir Agravaine
and Sir Mordred.  Also Queen Guenever was wood wroth
with Sir Launcelot, and would by no means speak with
him, but estranged herself from him; and Sir Launcelot
made all the means that he might for to speak with the
queen, but it would not be.

Now speak we of the Fair Maiden of Astolat that
made such sorrow day and night that she never slept, ate,
nor drank, and ever she made her complaint unto Sir
Launcelot.  So when she had thus endured a ten days, that
she feebled so that she must needs pass out of this world,
then she shrived her clean, and received her Creator.  And
ever she complained still upon Sir Launcelot.  Then her
ghostly father bade her leave such thoughts.  Then she
said, why should I leave such thoughts?  Am I not an
earthly woman?  And all the while the breath is in my
body I may complain me, for my belief is I do none offence
though I love an earthly man; and I take God to my
record I loved never none but Sir Launcelot du Lake, nor
never shall, and a clean maiden I am for him and for all
other; and sithen it is the sufferance of God that I shall
die for the love of so noble a knight, I beseech the High
Father of Heaven to have mercy upon my soul, and upon
mine innumerable pains that I suffered may be allegeance
of part of my sins.  For sweet Lord Jesu, said the fair
maiden, I take Thee to record, on Thee I was never great
offencer against thy laws; but that I loved this noble
knight, Sir Launcelot, out of measure, and of myself, good
Lord, I might not withstand the fervent love wherefore I
have my death.

And then she called her father, Sir Bernard, and her
brother, Sir Tirre, and heartily she prayed her father that
her brother might write a letter like as she did indite it:
and so her father granted her.  And when the letter was
written word by word like as she devised, then she prayed
her father that she might be watched until she were dead.
And while my body is hot let this letter be put in my right
hand, and my hand bound fast with the letter until that I
be cold; and let me be put in a fair bed with all the richest
clothes that I have about me, and so let my bed and all
my richest clothes be laid with me in a chariot unto the
next place where Thames is; and there let me be put
within a barget, and but one man with me, such as ye trust
to steer me thither, and that my barget be covered with
black samite over and over: thus father I beseech you let
it be done.  So her father granted it her faithfully, all
things should be done like as she had devised.  Then her
father and her brother made great dole, for when this was
done anon she died.  And so when she was dead the corpse
and the bed all was led the next way unto Thames, and
there a man, and the corpse, and all, were put into Thames;
and so the man steered the barget unto Westminster, and
there he rowed a great while to and fro or any espied it.